Some love songs don't end, they’re on permanent repeat. That's how a famous Italian song goes, and it could very well have been the soundtrack for the 46th edition of the Tour of the Alps, which ended today, Friday 21 April 2023, with the fifth stage lasting 144.5 km from Cavalese to Bruneck/Brunico.
Winning the stage race on the roads of the Tirol-Südtirol/Alto Adige-Trentino Euroregion was Tao Geoghegan Hart, who made his world debut in pro cycling here in 2019. That year he finished second behind teammate, Pavel Sivakov, whose victory was never under threat, despite a minimal gap in the general classification. This year Hart spent all five days in the Melinda green jersey – a first in the recent history of the Tour of the Alps.
During these past four years, Tao Geoghegan Hart has been able to establish himself as a rider at the highest level by winning the 2020 Giro d'Italia. After two difficult seasons and a positive start to the current season, it took the Tour of the Alps, the race that launched him and whose #LiveUphill credo is his message, to return to stage racing victory.
It was clear from the start in Alpbach that the Briton from INEOS Grenadiers was the strongest along with his teammates, which they reaffirmed the following day in the Ritten Arena in Ritten/Renon. Those two victories were enough to dig a decisive ditch between him and his rivals in the general classification because no one had the strength and/or courage to attack him in the race’s final days. Not Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Easypost), who finished second overall at 22 seconds back, nor Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious), third at 28 seconds back.
At the finish line in Bruneck/Brunico the English party was completed by Simon Carr’s (EF Education-Easypost) stage victory at the end of a solo break – a bold move in any race but which proved successful for the second day in this race. In his second career victory, Carr got rid of his breakaway companions on the Muhlbach/Riomolino climb, finishing 53 seconds ahead of teammate, Georg Steinhauser and Matteo Fabbro (Bora-Hansgrohe).
As in previous years and throughout all five race days this year, the Tour of the Alps once again confirmed its spectacular formula. Short and intense stages that were often decided at the line saw the top eight grouped within less than a minute. This is GS Alto Garda’s winning formula, which provided five days of great cycling on the roads of the Tirol-Südtirol/Alto Adige-Trentino Euroregion.
WHOEVER LASTS UNTIL THE END, WINS
As predicted, the race got off to a tough start on the Lavazé Pass, where a group of 16 riders made their mark in the snowy landscape, the result of rain the past few days. Among them was Sergio Samitier (Movistar Team), first on the highest KOM of the 2023 #TotA and winner of the Gruppo Cassa Centrale blue jersey for the Best Climber.
However, the INEOS-Grenadiers reacted on the descent and, on the subsequent flat section, brought things back together all the way to the flying finish in Klausen/Chiusa.
Here an even larger peloton than before broke away, with no fewer than 23 riders in making an escape. The racers in the break were Edoardo Zambanini (Bahrain Victorious), Simon Carr and George Steinhauser (EF Education-Easypost), Juri Hollmann (Movistar Team), Matteo Fabbro and Florian Lipowitz (Bora-hansgrohe), Geoffrey Bouchard, Nicolas Prodhomme, Valentin Paret Peintre, and Andrea Vendrame (AG2R-Citroën), Luis Leon Sanchez and Antonio Nibali (Astana-Qazaqstan), Omer Goldstein (Israel-Premier Tech), Luca Covili (Green Project-Bardiani), Adne Holter, Johannes Kulset and Magnus Brynsrud (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), Damien Howson and Gianluca Brambilla (Q36. 5 Pro Cycling Team), Txomin Juaristi Arrieta and Azparren Irurzun (Euskaltel-Euskadi), José Parra Cuerda (Equipo Kern Pharma), and Moran Vermeulen (Austria).
The lead group gained almost four minutes on the Melinda green jersey group, which gave way to the 23 escapees, exactly the same as in yesterday's stage with the finish in Predazzo. Today’s stage was decided on the Muhlbach/Riomolino climb during the final circuit with finish in Bruneck/Brunico.
As soon as the riders started to climb, Simon Carr strung out his breakaway companions like a paper chain. The Briton had already led several attacks and two breakaway attempts in this week's race. The only ones who tried to keep up with him were teammate George Steinhauser, Matteo Fabbro with teammate Florian Lipowitz, and Norwegian racer, Johannes Kulset. On the pass from the Muhlbach/Riomolino KOM, Carr had a 1-minute lead ahead of his teammate and 1'18" up on the trio of Fabbro, Lipowitz, and Kulset.
On the subsequent descent, Carr didn’t take any risks and was able to underscore his advantage at the finish line in Bruneck/Brunico, which he crossed with his arms raised, earning him the second victory of his professional career. Behind him Georg Steinhauser rounded out the perfect day for EF Education-Easypost by beating Matteo Fabbro and Florian Lipowitz in a sprint.
The general classification remained unchanged in the top ranks. The Melinda green jersey stayed with Tao Geoghegan Hart, while Hugh Carthy and Jack Haig basked in the applause from their perches on the podium in Brunico. Just behind them in the GC, Jefferson Cepeda (EF Education-Easypost), who won the Best Young Rider jersey in 2021, confirmed the team’s positive results in this year’s Euro-regional stage race.
Also coming out of the Tour of the Alps renewed was Lorenzo Fortunato, fifth at 38" from the leader, who returned to mark his presence in the pro peloton. Behind him was Lennard Kämna, winner of the third stage in Brentonico San Valentino. Pavel Sivakov finished 7th at 56", Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) eighth at 58", Felix Gall (AG2R-Citroën) ninth at 1'20", and Torstein Traeen (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), who closed out the top ten at 1'34", gained a position in the GC.
Thanks to his two stage victories in Alpbach and Ritten/Renon, Tao Geoghegan Hart also took the Manila Grace red jersey for the points classification. With a first place on the Passo Lavazè, the Gruppo Cassa Centrale blue jersey for the Best Climber went to Sergio Samitier, while the Würth white jersey for the Best Young Rider was won by Max Poole (Team DSM).
GEOGHEGAN HART: “THE PERFECT WEEK”
Tao Geoghegan Hart: "It was a fantastic week for me and the whole team, and we showed once again what we are made of in this fifth and final stage. I don't see this victory as a way of proving anything to the team about my role for upcoming races: I believe that in cycling and in life what you give – sooner or later – comes back to you. The team worked hard for me these past several days, as I have done for them on so many occasions in the past. The important thing is to be one collective."
"I am particularly pleased to have won this race by always remaining fully in control, by never taking big risks, and also by managing my energy well. The Tour of the Alps was as I remembered it: a fantastic race, well organised – perfect in terms of hospitality and logistics."
Simon Carr: "I had tried to break away many times this week, and today was my day. I knew I was fit and could try something, but it wasn't until halfway up the final climb that I realised I could do it. The work I’ve done so far for the team, the appearances in this week’s breaks, and today's victory show my potential: I hope I can continue like this in the future."